From a Teen’s Perspective: Tips for volunteering locally

by Dylan Lanier on June 20, 2023

Volunteering locally is a meaningful and rewarding way to uplift your community. However, many of us have jam-packed schedules that make it extremely hard to squeeze in time for service. Summer can often provide a respite from those busy routines and give us the time to volunteer in our community. Here’s a list of tips for making the most of summer service.

1. Find your niche: Service is by no means “one size fits all.” Each and every one of us has different interests and talents that make us a better fit for certain volunteer roles. Look for opportunities that utilize your strengths and bring you satisfaction.

2. Ask around: I’ve found many of my favorite volunteer opportunities through word-of-mouth. Talk to friends and family about any work they do or someone they know does in the community. If you already have a volunteering position, you can also talk to people within the organization about other services or places you can help out.

3. Join a group: While doing your own research for local non-profit organizations can be extremely effective, there are multiple groups in the area that connect members directly with specific organizations and opportunities. For example, I’m a member of the Young Men’s Service League, a group that builds relationships with local non-profits and posts volunteering opportunities for members to sign up.

4. Be ambitious: When I first began volunteering, I was worried to take on larger roles because I felt incapable. However, service isn’t about your initial knowledge, it’s about your willingness to learn and the passion that you possess for your work. I advise everyone to undertake projects just outside their comfort zone, because that’s how you’ll learn and grow.

5. Do your own thing: Volunteering for a specific organization is often the easiest route for helping your community, but it’s certainly not the only one. If you see a need in your community that isn’t currently being met, try to solve it yourself! Maybe that means gathering friends to assist elderly neighbors with grocery shopping, soliciting donations for a local charity, or crafting play-toys for a nearby animal shelter. Be sure to do your research and plan it out to ensure things go smoothly and have maximum impact.

“Getting involved” is way easier said than done. However, putting in the hard work to find and participate in local service projects is extremely worth it. Volunteering teaches us empathy, enhances gratitude, builds community, and creates lifelong memories. I can’t think of a better way to spend a summer than trying to make the world—at least our tiny corner of it—a better place!

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From a Teen’s Perspective is a weekly column contributed by Menlo-Atherton High School soon-t0be senior Dylan Lanier, who has lived in Menlo Park since he was two.

Photo is for illustration purposes only.

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